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Br J Soc Psychol ; 2022 Nov 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-2227059


Conspiracy Beliefs (CB) are a key vector of violent extremism, radicalism and unconventional political events. So far, social-psychological research has extensively documented how cognitive, emotional and intergroup factors can promote CB. Evidence also suggests that adherence to CB moves along social class lines: low-income and low-education are among the most robust predictors of CB. Yet, the potential role of precarity-the subjective experience of permanent insecurity stemming from objective material strain-in shaping CB remains largely unexplored. In this paper, we propose for the first time a socio-functional model of CB. We test the hypothesis that precarity could foster increased CB because it undermines trust in government and the broader political 'elites'. Data from the World Value Survey (n = 21,650; Study 1, electoral CB) and from representative samples from polls conducted in France (n = 1760, Study 2a, conspiracy mentality) and Italy (n = 2196, Study 2b, COVID-19 CB), corroborate a mediation model whereby precarity is directly and indirectly associated with lower trust in authorities and higher CB. In addition, these links are robust to adjustment on income, self-reported SES and education. Considering precarity allows for a truly social-psychological understanding of CB as the by-product of structural issues (e.g. growing inequalities). Results from our socio-functional model suggest that implementing solutions at the socio-economic level could prove efficient in fighting CB.

Journal of Social Issues ; 78(4):790-814, 2022.
Article in English | Academic Search Complete | ID: covidwho-2192908


The World Health Organization (WHO) identified +65 individuals as one of the most vulnerable populations in the current pandemic. Previous research has shown a robust association between ageism and derogatory attitudes and behaviors targeting older people. We proposed that reluctance of people under age 65 to endorse the policies that benefit older adults can be further explained by their adherence to social Darwinism. We tested a mediation model to examine whether social Darwinism would predict support for policies directly and indirectly through the endorsement of ageist attitudes. We conducted two correlational studies in Turkey (Study 1;N = 1261) and the United States (Study 2;N = 210). In Study 1, we collected data through social media and messaging platforms in April 2020. In Study 2, participants were recruited via Prolific Academic in May 2020. In both studies, we found that adherence to social Darwinist beliefs negatively predicted support for policies. We also found that this association was positively mediated by ageist attitudes. Overall, our research contributes to the scholarly effort to identify the social‐psychological barriers to public support for legal initiatives aimed to secure a healthy and productive future for older people. [ FROM AUTHOR]

Group Processes & Intergroup Relations ; : 1368430220978278, 2021.
Article in English | Sage | ID: covidwho-1273193


The present paper examines the extent to which conspiracy beliefs about the COVID-19 outbreak and distrust of epidemiological science are likely to predict optimistically biased risk perceptions at the individual and group levels. We explored the factor structure of coronavirus conspiracy beliefs and their associations with trust in science in predicting risk perceptions using survey data collected in Ukraine (N = 390), Turkey (N = 290), and Germany (N = 408). We further expected conspiracy beliefs and distrust of science to predict people?s willingness to attend public gatherings versus maintaining preventive physical distancing through optimistically biased risk perceptions. Metric noninvariance for key constructs across the samples was observed so the samples were analysed separately. In Ukraine, a two-factor structure of conspiracy beliefs was found wherein COVID-19 bioweapon (but not COVID-19 profit) beliefs were negatively associated with public gathering through optimistically biased individual risk perceptions. In Turkey and Germany, conspiracy beliefs showed a single-factor solution that was negatively associated with preventive distancing and positively related to public gathering through optimistically biased public risk metaperceptions. The hypothesis about the direct and indirect effects of trust in science on risky health behaviour was partially confirmed in all three samples. The observed discrepancies in our findings are discussed.